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Needs wife NOW!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009



Someone's in quite a hurry!

A young gentleman of pleasing appearance, and from one of our first families, wishes to enter into a correspondence with a lady who is sincere in her intentions to enter into the matrimonial state immediately. She must be young and well educated. Beauty preferred, but not indispensable. Any person possessing the above named qualifications will confer a favor upon the writer by answering immediately. Address Henry Graham, Herald office.


Okay, I have never seen the movie The Bachelor, a fact I am quite happy about, but I know the plot, and this ad is it. Henry did something, somehow, that put him in a position where if he's not married by, like, yesterday, he's going to lose something big. No really - normally I am speculating wildly on this blog, and half the time just writing what I find the most appealing and entertaining - not necessarily what really may have happened. But in this case I feel pretty confident that Henry is frantically trying to get married now. Right now.

Things that are striking: he uses the word "immediately" not once but twice. Dude wants a wife now. Also, she must be young and well-educated, but not attractive. Normally I'd say how sweet that he doesn't care about looks, but the reality is that he just needs someone about his own age who is intelligent enough that he can introduce her to his family who won't be gauche and vulgar. He'd like someone pretty for himself, but he's desperate enough that he'll marry anyone. The last part where he says "confer a favor" is a little less significant; people said that all the time who weren't dire straits; it was just a polite phrase. But it sure does add to the whole desperation theme going on here. Even the text itself feels rushed!

I wonder what he stands to lose? Inheritance? Did he knock up some poor girl and needs a quick marriage before she can somehow tie him down? I wonder if he got answers. I'm sure there were women who wouldn't have minded becoming part of one of the city's "first families," but the tone of this ad is so unmistakable even they might have thought twice. You'd have to be either extremely dense not to get what's going on here, or have extraordinary powers of self-deception.

Although, from what I understand, The Bachelor had a happy ending, so I guess anything's possible...

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

3 comments:

AuntiMame October 20, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

My first thought on reading the notice was "Seven Chances". "The Bachelor" (Chris O'Donnell movie) is an unfunny remake of Buster Keaton's Seven Chances. -- watchable online at http://www.jaman.com/now-playing/?videoID=0uB8y51O2_Fs -- Not one of Buster's best, but it does have a wonderfully funny bit with Buster outracing boulders rolling down a hill.

Liz October 20, 2009 at 2:38 PM  

Mmm, definitely sounds like an inheritance with conditions to me, particularly if it's a well-off family - the Need For An Heir And The Continuation Of The Line might have meant this chap would have lost his position as eldest son to a younger brother already married and with kids. Alternative, it could be a condition imposed by an eccentric aunt/uncle/godparent on a legacy...

I also had the crazy idea of this chap needing to obtain a wife at speed after having fibbed about having one, but if he's from one of the best families in the city, that kind of rules out the possibility of suddenly visiting relatives who need to be appeased.

Pam October 20, 2009 at 6:05 PM  

AuntiMame - it seems to be a popular subject; there's another movie from 1904 with the same scene!

Liz - I think the likelihood that someone wouldn't know about a weird condition like that until the day before is a scenario that only happens in movies...

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